Buzzard's Beat

Friday, July 30, 2010

Beautiful. Country. Life.

Pasture behind my house in SEK

I love living in the country.  Until I left for college, I had never lived in town and although living in town has its advantages (24 hour McDonald's anyone?) I pined for my serene countryside everyday until this past June when I moved back to the countryside after living in town in MHK for 4 years.  Let me tell you, I'm loving the crickets, starry skies, scenic view and the absence of sirens. These pictures are from my daily 10 minute drive to school.

Corn north of Manhattan

The rain has been coming at pretty reasonable intervals this summer. Not like the summer of 2007 when it rained for 4 straight days and afterwards didn't rain for a month.  This summer we've been fortunate enough to have rain every 1 1/2 weeks or so and the crops seem to be doing pretty good. Look at these beans - tall, green and lovely!

Tall, healthy soybeans

Recently cut alfalfa field - smelled amazing!

I don't think you have to be a farmer or have grown up farming to appreciate the simple beauty of the countryside. If you eat food, that's should be enough.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Wine Fed Beef

Another niche market has popped up in the beef industry - wine fed beef.  Canada is trying to produce the equivalent of Japanese Kobe beef by supplementing red wine from the Okanagan valley to the normal feedlot ration.  Cattle are fed this combination for the last 90 days before being harvested - feedlot owner Bill Freding says that the meat doesn't have the flavor of wine to it but it is darker red and has a sweeter taste.  Freding said that representatives from the British Columbian meat industry are very excited about the product and have been requesting steaks and ribs a lot.

Makes me wonder what is next?  Champagne fed pork?  Boone's Farm (Wild Island) chicken?  What about using a white wine? Would that make the meat too bitter?  Anything is possible in the agricultural industry but one thing is for certain..... Yellowtail won't be used in any livestock diets.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Bacon? Do I smell bacon?

It's kind of hard to get that Beggin Strips commercial out of your head.  Bacon? Do I smell bacon? Makes me hungry thinking about it.  Is there another food that is so commonly used to make stuff better?

Think about it?  Want to instantly make a filet mignon even more delicious?  Wrap bacon around it.
Guess what adding bacon to a salad does?  Transforms that salad into a meal.  I can never get enough bacon and in honor of my friend Brandon, who is affectionately nicknamed "The Baconator" because of his graduate work on the savory dish, I have decided to compile a list of all things bacon. Enjoy!

Bacon flavored vodka -- I discovered this while traveling abroad in Europe last March.  Not exactly my cup of tea but at least it's unique.

The Bacon Explosion - the Ninja and The Baconator made this heart-valve-clogging concoction last fall and it was really good!  (This has sausage in it too - doubly good)!

Jim Gaffigan loves bacon and has done several hilarious stand up shows involving the delectable meat.  The salad becoming an entree joke is from one of his shows.

Foods I think are made much better with bacon:  mac n' cheese, loin eyes (pork and beef), salads, any kind of pasta, toast and strawberry jelly (don't knock it till you've tried it), lil' smokies -- the list goes on and on. 

and for man's best friend - don't forget coupons for Beggin' Strips

For more cool bacon recipes, information and fun ideas go to  You'll love it!  There are also health facts on there that state that we must have fats in our diet to absorb fat soluble vitamins, aid with digestion by lubricating the intestine walls and fats aid with nutrient and metabolite diffusion across cell membranes.  Check out the rest of the healthy fat facts!  Remember to consume in moderation, of course.

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Grace by Baxter

I was reading the The All-American Cowboy Cookbook the other night (yes, I know some of you are in shock) trying to find new and interesting recipes that both the Ninja and I would like (quite a feat considering he likes vegetables and trying new things and I....well, don't).  I stumbled across a cowboy prayer written by Baxter Black - cowboy poet, story teller, agriculturalist and veterinarian.  Here is one of my favorite excerpts from the prayer:
I don't take it lightly if it's real good
'cause I'd eat it anyway
See I know there's people, in all likelihood,
That might not eat today.

So count me in if yer needin' grace said
and bless those who provide it.
The farmers and rancher, the bakers of bread,
the loving hands that fried it.

You can read the rest of the prayer if you buy the cookbook, but the point is that we should all be very thankful that we have such an abundant, cheap and healthy food supply. Imposing regulations on farmers and ranchers may not decrease the quality of product (though that is debatable) but it can definitely cause an increase in the price of our food.

The U.S. has the cheapest food supply in the world - we spend less than 10%  of our income on food. Other countries like India spend 39.4% and in Indonesia the number is a staggering 49.9%. Can you imagine spending half of every paycheck on food? I don't even want to think about that.

So today, while you're grilling your delicious pork chops or steak or burgers don't forget to say a prayer for the farmers and ranchers who provide our nation with the cheapest and largest food supply in the world.  Then you can dig in!

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Easy as Cheesecake

Due to a recent development in the honeymoon-to-Fiji-in-exchange-for-angel-food-cake saga, I made a cheesecake last night. The NInja informed me that a cheesecake or pie counted for two angel food cakes so voila! I am done with #'s 4 and 5. It's a mighty tasty little devil if I do say so myself ;)

Until next time,

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Less Talky Talky

Temple Grandin, in her book "Animals in Translation", talks about a government program in the 1960's that eradicated screwworms.  If you don't know what a screwworm is take a look.  They are the larvae of a fly that lays its egg in the wounds, cuts, bites and scratches of animals.  After they hatch, the maggots come out and eat the animal alive.  They're disgusting little creatures and will kill an animal, or human if not taken care of quickly.  This is what it can do to your livestock.  Anyway, the USDA put sterile male screwworms in little chinese food paper boxes and dropped them out of airplanes all over the Southwest and Western regions of the U.S., even Mexico.  When the flies got out they mated and voila! eggs that never hatched were laid in wounds.  There hasn't been a screwworm case in the US since 1982.  That story is a great example of action taken by the government.

Today, there is a lot of talking going on with the government.  Talk about how to make ag more sustainable. Talk about how to feed the world in 50 years. Talk about how to make meat plants more humane and safe.  Policies are being enacted that don't have a lot of scientific background but lots of smoke and lights instead.  Instead of talking, let's act.  Instead of saying "no mistakes can be made in a meat plant" (which is impossible) make meat plants more humane by setting standards that can be met, like 95% of all animals must be stunned correctly on the first try.  Work on feeding the world in 50 years by allowing farmers and ranchers to continue using current practices that work (ex. antibiotics).  Instead of inhibiting beef production with regulations on air emissions from cows (in my opinion: stupid) or regulating antibiotic use in swine that prevents disease AND allows us to produce lots of high quality pork at a low price, protect our industry from nay-sayers like PETA and anti-ag-activists/lobbyists like HSUS.  Policy should reflect the wants and needs of the population that is being represented.  That doesn't seem to be happening anymore. Let's stop talking and start doing and keep feeding the world in a safe, healthy and efficient manner.  

Until next time,

p.s. I suggest you read Animals in Translation - it's about animals and Temple wrote it. How can it be bad?

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Know your product!

This past week, I was in Denver for the National Animal Science Meetings (not the National Junior Angus Show).  I was presenting a poster on one of my animal behavior and well-being projects about swine restraint and blood sampling.  While National Meetings was very exciting and filled with opportunities: networking with industry leaders, talking to professors in my area from other schools and having Temple Grandin tell me how much she liked my poster (sorry, I had to throw that in there!), there was also a lot of time for fun and exploration of Denver.

We (Rebecca Tokach, Mandy Myers and I) had a blast exploring the shops, restaurants and piano bars of downtown Denver.  We even made an appearance at Coyote Ugly - they likely won't forget us soon.

But this post isn't about shopping or piano bars or the Bare Minerals makeover I got, it's about knowing the product you're sellling.  On Tuesday night, Becca and I had the pleasure of having dinner with Don Boggs - Associate Dean of the KSU College of Ag.  We all go waaaay back. Anyways, we were eating at Big Game - a restaurant with great food, lots of big screen tv's and wild game on the walls and menu.  It's a trifecta.  Unfortunately, their service isn't up to speed with the menu.  We asked our server what a hangar steak (placement pictured above) was, expecting him to tell us the correct answer in order to sell us a $30 steak.  He informed us that he wasn't sure but he thought it came from the outside muscle of the backleg. Seriously?  The hangar steak hangs between the rib and the loin (hence the name).  I don't want to pay $30 for a steak that comes from the semimembranosus (outside of backleg) - roasts are what come out of that part (except for round steak, which isn't the most tender cut).  What he should have said is "I'm not familiar with that cut, let me go check and get back to you."  He did come back and tell us where it was from but he made himself look stupid and we didn't buy the steak.  We ended up getting the NY Strip - a great alternative.  Aside from the ineptitude of the server, the meal was actually awesome.  I would recommend Big Game to any Denver traveler.

Servers need to know their products -- it upsets customers when you don't know what's on your menu.  Not knowing the cuts of meat on your menu could cause people to avoid your restaurant, turn vegan or jip you on the tip.  Restaurant owners: please start making menu training mandatory for all servers.

Until next time,

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

686 Miles Closer to Fiji

So in case you were wondering, 686 miles is 1/10th of the distance from Kansas to Fiji.  And 1/10 is how much of the cake bet I have completed.  Cake #3 is baked but the Ninja hasn't eaten all of it.....yet.  Just the edges!

This one was a bit of a pain because someone, ahem Ninja, threw away the bottle I used to put the pan on to cool.  I had to dump out a perfectly good Bud Light to get another bottle so I could finish this cake.  The sacrifices I make for love and marriage!

Until next time,

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Friday, July 9, 2010

These Boots.....

I love Eric Church.  I love his voice, I love his music and I'd love it if he were my arm candy (not all the time, just temporarily).  Last night I went to a FREE and amazing Eric Church concert in the Power & Light district in Kansas City.

One of Eric's hits is a song called "These Boots." He talks about a lot of life events and stupid things he's done while wearing them.  It's an example of great songwriting and you can read the lyrics or listen to the song later to find out what I mean.

 But let me get to my point.....
 You know who else experiences a lot in their boots?  The fine folks that produce our nation's food supply - yep, America's farmers and ranchers have more stories to tell about what happens during a day in their shoes than anyone I know.  Don't believe me?  Ask one of over 2,000,000 American farmers how they feed the nation day in and day out - I'm sure they'd be glad to tell you. 

For example - every day dairy farmers mik their cow herds 2-3 times per day.  The work day starts before the sun comes up and ends after the sun has disappeared.  Dairy farmers do this 24/7, even on the holidays. How does that milk taste? Thank a farmer!

Right now, in Colorado, farmers are in the middle of wheat harvest.  Wheat harvest, regardless of location,  isn't your typical 9-5 with breaks at 10 and 3.  When I was in high school, I used to go up to my room at 9 or 10 pm and look out the window to see the neighbors harvesting wheat with the headlights on the combine blazing.  They worked late into the night and were back at it again early the next morning. 

My best friend in elementary school, Heather, and I used to bottle feed the calves that her dad had put on the porch.  He had been up all night checking mama cows and calves every 2 hours to make sure that the calves were standing and able to nurse.  If they were too weak, they went to the porch and we got to take care of them.

These are just a drop in the ocean compared to the endless knowledge and experience an American farmer has.  Below, I've listed some great sites for true, and humorous, farm stories. 

Baxter Black, DVM and cowboy poet - On the Edge of Common Sense
The Chronicles of Newman (and other farm stories) -
Five Farms: Stories from American Farm Families

And just for good measure, I had to throw in a picture of my boots ;)

Until next time,

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Pork Done Right

So there I was, strolling through the parking lot of Weber Hall when I saw it.  A bumper sticker. Not just any bumper sticker, no no - this bumper sticker was special. Why? Well because obviously it became the subject of this post - gotcha  :)

I don't know who drives the Chevy S-10 that this sticker was so happily clinging to but I do know that it sums up the pork industry pretty darn well.

Doing what's right -- not "doing whatever we want."  A prime example is antibiotic use in the swine industry. Antibiotics are administered to prevent sickness - in some countries in the EU, antibiotic use in the pork industry has been outlawed unless it is needed. In short, no preventative measures can be taken.  Now, there is more antibiotic usage due to the large numbers of pigs getting sick because preventative measures weren't taken.

Something for ya to talk about at the water cooler today!

Until next time,

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Care, Not Cash

I've raised horses and livestock my entire life.  From horses to goats, sheep to swine - I've fed, watered, doctored, been frustrated by and been trampled on by all of them.  Why do I, and thousand of other young livestock men and women, put so much time, sweat, blood, tears and care towards our animals and their lives? Because of the love we have for livestock and the way of life that accompanies owning and caring for them.

The first time I ever read this poem, I was standing in my the Ninja's parents' kitchen in Ohio in 2009 and I have loved it ever since. Written by H.W. Mumford, it exemplifies all the superb qualities of a Stockman (or woman) that are often unnoticed. 

A Tribute to the Stockman

Behold the Stockman! Artist and Artisan.
He may be polished, or a diamond in the rough-but always a gem.
Whose devotion to his animals is second only to his love of God and family.
Whose gripping affection is tempered only by his inborn sense of the true proportion of things.
Who cheerfully braves personal discomfort to make sure his livestock suffer not.
To him there is rhythm in the clatter of the horse’s hoof, music in the bleating of the sheep and in the lowing of the herd.
His approaching footsteps call forth the affectionate whinny of recognition.
His calm, well-modulated voice inspires confidence and wins affection.
His coming is greeted with demonstrations of pleasure, and his going with evident disappointment.
Who sees something more in cows than the drudgery of milking, more in swine than the grunt and squeal, more in the horse than the patient servant, and more in sheep than the golden hoof.
Herdsman, shepherd, groom-yes, and more.
Broad-minded, big-hearted whole-souled; whose life and character linger long after the cordial greeting is stilled and the hearty handshake is but a memory; whose silent influence forever lives.
May his kind multiply and replenish the earth.

Nowhere in that literary masterpiece does it say "and make as much money as possible" or "take over modern agriculture" or "fool the public into eating meat".  It doesn't mention those statements because 1) they're not true and 2) nobody gets into the farming or livestock business to make millions of dollars. Farmers and ranchers do so because they love the land, animals, hard work and their fellow farmer.  They are rich in character, determination and wisdom.  What better wealth to have?

Until next time,

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Mixed Emotions, Opinions in Ohio

Last week, news hit that HSUS was pulling out of Ohio. Skedaddling; leaving for good.  Agriculturalists across Ohio, and the nation, cheered together instantaneously.  Wordage from OH Governor, Ted Strickland, such as he will "strongly encourage tougher penalties on puppy mills" led us to believe that no real harm had been done to OH but that HSUS was defeated and rushing home with their tails tucked under.  Our celebratory praises were short-lived and possibly misplaced.  Sure, Ohioans accomplished a huge feat: stopping HSUS from presenting a ballot initiative. But at what price did that victory come?

Pacelle's blog, A Humane Nation, praises HSUSer's and their effort of buying signatures in Ohio.  He also jumps a bit to conclusions about how successful he was in this agreement.  You can read his blog for yourself but just remember, he is good at twisting words. (p.s. I really hate that I linked to anything related to positive opinions about HSUS but to be fair and unlike them, I did. Please don't hold it against me).
I've been talking to several friends in Ohio who farm and I've gotten a variety of opinions.  One told me that he was thrilled that HSUS was gone and would never be coming back -- another farmer was pretty ticked that after the end of the year, he could no longer purchase gestation crates for his swine facility.  Misconceptions are occurring everywhere and it's no wonder.  If you didn't read the full agreement (which I suggest you do) between HSUS and Ohio, you'd have no idea of some of the provisions within.

I'll summarize some of the major points.  This is, in my mind, a hard fought and won battle for Ohio. However, with every battle there comes some casualties.
  • Part 7 - "Recommendation will be made to the OLCSB for current hog producers and to phase out
    the use of gestation crates by December 31, 2025. By that date time all sows must be
    housed using alternative systems. After December 31, 2010, any new facilities must
    utilize alternative sow housing (not gestation crates). It is understood that in all housing
    systems, sows may be housed in breeding/gestation stalls until they are confirmed
    • Good/bad -- The good side is that hog farmers can buy gestation crates, as is, until December.  All those who want to continue using current practices may until December, 2025. I'd like to point out that science and technology are always evolving, in 15 years a more efficient and more welfare friendly system may have been developed. In which case, no one will care about gestation crates anymore. The down side is that the HSUS still has their grubby paw in the mix on hog farms and has succeeded in getting some regulations, while small, invoked. And I don't know anybody who wants that.
  • Part 9  - "HSUS will also not initiate litigation (nuisance or otherwise) to attempt to use legal process to obtain the same ends as articulated in the ballot initiative in Ohio through the life of this agreement. HSUS will not fund, advise or otherwise support other organizations to move forward in their place."
    • This is good. In short, they're not going to further pursue a ballot initiative. This saves Ohio millions of dollars that can be spent on improving animal well-being instead of being poured down the toilet for campaigning.
  • Part 10 - "The HSUS will not submit a constitutional amendment on animal welfare in 2010 to the Ohio Secretary of State. Failure to implement the provisions related to wild and dangerous animals or the reforms recommended to the OLCSB by December 31, 2010
    could void the agreement and allow the HSUS to pursue a ballot initiative whenever it
    chooses. However, if the terms of this agreement are met and implemented to the
    satisfaction of all parties, the agreement will extend to January 1, 2014. At that time the
    agreement shall be extended through January 1, 2017, and subsequently through January
    1, 2020, if the terms continue to be met, and no party shall reasonably withhold its
    consent to the extensions. Any future pursuit of a ballot initiative by HSUS could nullify
    the limitation on gestation crate or battery cage facilities until and unless other lawful
    prohibitions come to exist."
    • This is not so good - basically, if OLCSB doesn't take some direction from HSUS on wild and dangerous animals, they'll renig on their end and pursue a ballot initiative.  Then we'd have to go through all the drama all over again.
I very, very strongly encourage you to read the agreement. Like I said, there are mixed opinions and the aforementioned were mine.  You may have your own.  There are good and bad sides to the Ohio saga - let's try not to be pessimists and instead, let's face the uncertain future with a smile.  Remember what your mom used to say - kill 'em with kindness.
Until next time,

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